Smith and Ponting had some brilliant rivalries and were at the centre of many classic matches
South Africa captain Graeme Smith has become the latest cricketer to pay tribute to Ricky Ponting after the former Australia skipper announced his retirement prior to the start of the third Test against the Proteas at Perth.
Smith and Ponting faced each other 27 times as captains of their respective countries and 41 times in total.
“It was just something that needed to be done,” Smith said. “For me, having played against Ricky so much over the years he’s certainly the player that I respect most that I’ve played against, for his intensity and the way he has played the game, the runs he has scored against us. He has always been so competitive. It was just a sign of respect from us for someone who has given the game of cricket so much.
“All of us will miss Ricky as an opponent. Hopefully now him and I can catch up for a beer. I’m sure a few of us would love to do that. Him and I have got to know each other fairly well over the last few years, whether it’s sitting on planes or catching up after series. It will be nice to have that relaxed nature now and have some time together.”
Despite South Africa beating Australia by 309 runs and handing Ponting a loss in his final Test, the former Australian skipper holds an outstanding record while playing against the Proteas, scoring eight Test centuries and posting a total of 2132 runs against them, which is the most by any player of the modern era, but only behind Denis Compton and Wally Hammond on the all-time scoring list.
Smith stated that Ponting had numerous moments of greatness and added that captaining against an in-form Ponting was nearly impossible to do so.
“I think there’s a few innings in the early days [that I will remember],” Smith said. “We ended up winning the Test match, but the 100 and 99 in Melbourne on Boxing Day [in 2008], there was another time at the Wanderers when he got runs and the wicket went around all over the shop.
“There were moments when you thought it was really tough to bat and he just took the game to you and played in a way you haven’t really seen other people play. The tempo with which he played the game as a batter, as a captain it was really interesting to try and manage. I wasn’t part of it but I think that World Cup knock at the Wanderers has got to rank as one of the top ones that I have watched.”